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Despite lean times, Niskayuna schools implement new programs in 2009-10 budget

The Niskayuna Central School District's Board of Education unanimously adopted the 2009-2010 budget at the Monday, April 6, meeting. The recommended budget comes in at $74,489,303, an increase of 1.47 percent over last year's budget of, making it the lowest spending increase in a decade.

We have been focused on [budget development] since December, said Jeanne Susnow, Niskayuna Board of Education vice president. "I want to compliment our administration and our leadership team. They handled this very well in terms of approaching it and really looking at what we could cut and what the impact would be on students and prioritizing how we can make these changes so that we do it with the least impact on these kids as possible."

The proposed budget increase raises the tax levy by about 2.45 percent. This is the lowest tax levy increase tax payers have seen in six years. Under the budget proposal, a Niskayuna resident with a home assessed at $250,000 would pay $98 more in their school taxes for this coming year.

"What's happened on the revenues side is that the state aid has stayed flat " there are some increases in operating aid, but the general foundation aid has stayed flat," said Susnow. "We're getting a little less from the state so we need a little more from our homeowners so the 2.45 percent increase is less than the increase that we had last year."

Susnow said the district is pleased with the numbers considering the stark economic times.

This figure does not include STAR reductions.

District officials eliminated nearly $1.2 million from their preliminary budget to reduce costs.

"We did make a net adjustment in personnel of about 13 positions " the majority of those are in teaching assistants, and we track hours, so it doesn't necessarily reflect eight people," said Susnow.

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